My M’s Memories!
This is the first in our series of 2011 Northwest sports team by team flashback articles. The Mariners came into 2011 with no expectation. New Manager Eric Wedge was feeling out just how bad the team was and what he could do to make it better.
It was a year of growing pains as the team was a rookie majority with 18 of the 25 men on the roster playing in their first season.
There are a lot of moments that Seattle fans would probably rather forget. This would include the 17 game losing streak, the demise of Ichiro, the two, three ball walks given up and every at bat of Chone Figgins.
As rough of a year as it was, here are the five top moments of the 2011 Seattle Mariners. (The Year In Review)
1. Louis Rodrigez walk off single against Toronto
The M’s had a rough start to the season and by April 10 they already held a 7 game losing streak and were yet to win a home game.
April 11 made Mariner history as the lowest attended game in Safeco field even though their superstar Felix Hernandez was taking the mound.
When Seattle was losing 0-7 against Toronto going into the 7th inning many of the 13,056 had decided to go home, but it turned out to be one of the most exciting comeback games in franchise history as little known backup infielder hit a two run single after a 9 pitch at bat in the bottom of the 9th inning leading the Mariners to an 8-7 victory.
2. Milton Bradley Designated For Assignment
The Mariners had hoped that Milton Bradley’s bat would be worth the risk of taking over the often troubled outfielder.
However Bradley had a sordid past with the new Mariners manager and fans were waiting for a blow up. In one game in 2010 Bradley left the game and the stadium and didn’t return for 14 games.
The M’s were willing to work with him to a point, but in 2011 Bradley was only hitting .218 with 2 home runs in 28 games and had snapped on field several times.
The Mariners designated for an assignment and ultimately the M’s paid the guy 12 Million not to play baseball.
3. Michael Pineda named an All-Star
One of the highlights of the year was the rise of the 6’7” 255lbs hard throwing right hander (Michael Pineda) with a diabolical slider.
He was brought in to be a 5th starter but quickly showed that he was an elite pitcher destined to become an ace. With Felix around to mentor the 22 year old, the Mariner had a genuine 1-2 punch. It was a proud moment for Mariners fans when Pineda was named to the AL All Star team.
At that point he looked like a favorite for rookie of the year, and if he could have had some offensive support and stayed out of high pressure situations – I think he would have been.
4. Chone Figgins Injury
Although Chone Figgins was one of the top hitters for the M’s in spring training and he hit a home run during the Season opener in Oakland, it didn’t take long for the former All Star third basemen to become the most loathed player ever to wear the Seattle Uniform. A-Rod may be hated, but never while he was a Mariner.
Figgins took fan hatred to a new level.
With a large contract, a depleting value and no options, the M’s had to keep him on the roster. An injury was the only way for space to be cleared for a prospect like Kyle Seager or Alex Liddi to take over.
Figgins was hitting .188 in 81 games when he was finally injured and place on the disabled list on August 2.
And there was much rejoicing.
5. Dave Neihaus Statue Unveiled
This was devastating as he made the bad baseball that the Mariner player exciting and the great baseball euphoric. The Mariners made their first franchise statue not for a player, but for this beloved broadcaster.
The statue shows Dave sitting behind his desk calling a game, and M’s fans can sit right beside him just like he made them all feel with his voice over the airwaves.